Dom Hodgson is Europe's Number One business coach of dog walkers, dog trainers, and pet sitters. He's also a prolific author (not a coincidence). Here's his story...
Back in 2015, I had finally grocked how marketing works, and what you have to do to create a premium business. I’d started to implement a lot of things like premium pricing, and premier positioning, and expert status. I was trying to make my business more exclusive, so I could stand out from the competition.
I was building a list and starting to sell online dog training programmes, and I got to the point where I thought, oh, do you know what? I think writing a book is the next thing I need to do.
So I wrote My Dog’s Superhero—then I wrote three more books, with my fifth book coming out at the end of 2019.
I wrote that first book in 2016, but I started writing it in 2015. I knew what I needed to do, and I knew what the book was going to do for me and what I needed it to do for my business.
There’s nothing wrong with being a starry-eyed author, but I knew I wasn’t writing a book to become a best-seller, or just because I wanted to get some stuff off my chest or only because I had a story to tell. Although I did have a story to tell, in the end.
I was doing a lot of research on how to write a books, but I was really struggling with just getting started. I tried a number of techniques to get going. One was to just sit and write, which didn’t go very well for me. I even pre-ordered a thousand printed copies of my book from Bill Goss, our friend at Elite Publishing. A thousand copies with no words in them!
I pre-bought a thousand at a special discounted rate when Bill was doing an offer, and I thought, “If I buy the books, that’ll kick me into getting on with writing the book.” It didn’t, and I still struggled and bumbled along until New Year’s Eve 2015, when Vicky was closing her Published In 90 Days course.
I just thought, you know what? I like this lady. I like her emails, I trust her, and I’ve never been one for regretting things anyway. I thought Vicky’s course was what I needed to help get me over the start line with this book.
At the time of writing my first book, if you’d said, “Write a book”, my underpants would have tightened. It’s like, “oh shit. Well, I can’t do that!”
I think the funny thing about writing a book is that, unless you’re getting someone to actually ghostwrite the thing for you, you do have to step up and do all the work yourself. You’ve given me a lot of help, but if you’re going to do this, you have to understand that you’ve got to do it. I felt like I wasn’t frightened of hard work. I was prepared to put that work in. I just needed to be shown which way to go.
I think it was the structure that was stopping me from writing. I wasn’t able to do that, and your course really simplified it. It simplified the whole process for me. I’m big, huge fan of finding a way to simplify everything: dog training, marketing stuff, writing a book…
You broke down things like the introduction—how it’s really important. How you start a chapter, how you finish a chapter. Then once I got that, I felt I was at the races.
I think you delivered the course in a way that is a perfect example of how people should write their books. You delivered the course with stories, and examples, and bits of humour.
You’re not just telling, you’re showing and telling at the same time. Thinking back to it now, I can remember driving around and listening to you deliver the course and you just painting a very easy picture of how to do it.
Some of the later stuff in the course, like the marketing side of things, I knew a lot about already, but it was still really beneficial to see how to implement the marketing for the book. Because it’s one thing having a book, then it’s another thing marketing it, isn’t it? It’s easier to market if you write the book with the marketing in mind. All the pieces matter as they say in The Wire.
I liked the fact that I got it done in... it probably took me slightly longer than three months. But at the time, I was building up the membership and stuff as well. I liked the structure of the course. I liked the way it held my hand through the whole process. I liked the fact that I was able to get feedback from you. When I gave you my introduction to look over, and then you gave me feedback on it, that was enough for me to then have the confidence to go on and write the rest of the book.
I think it was good to have that reassurance that I was on the right track, and you helped me with everything really along the way: the cover, the title, and then how I spun it off afterwards.
The first book, How To Be Your Dog’s Superhero, really did put me on the map in a way that I don’t think anything else would have been able to do. I started public speaking after I published it, for example. So the book and the speaking started at kind of the same time.
Those things together really helped to put me out there, and define me. It showed people what type of dog trainer I was, what type of person I was looking to help, and what type of people I wanted to work with. The book helped me with that straight away.
I can remember at the time people talking about it… The book was getting mentioned on social media by quite well-respected dog trainers, who certainly wouldn’t have known anything about me if I hadn’t written a book.
I had an interesting conversation with one of my clients the other day in my Pet Business Inner Circle, and they were talking about starting a podcast. As I always do, I questioned it: why do you want to do that? The answer was something along the lines of, well, it’s to help me to put my name out there and showcase my expertise. If you’ve got a radio show, then you put some experts on. I didn’t disagree with any of that at all.
However, you can’t compare a podcast to a book. My client was ready to write a book really. They didn’t feel like they were ready, but I was trying to show them they were. I said: look, don’t kid yourself that having a podcast is the same as having a book because it isn’t. I have two podcasts and a book, and I know which one I’d rather have.
Lots of my clients are cracking their books out with a lot of help from you at my events or through taking your course. I think there’s three or four of them now who have either written their book or they’re currently writing it.
You can build your business up to a certain level, and increase your prices a certain amount. You can promote yourself a lot more, and differentiate yourself from the competition.
But then it gets to to a point where you need something else, when you get stuck on a plateau. Well, a book is one of the things that gives you that “something else”. Once you’ve got a book you’ve cemented the expert status you already have, and your book is a huge differentiator for you. Plenty of people talk about writing a book, but not that many people actually do it.
The book immediately changed my business and changed people’s thoughts about me. It’s opened so many other doors as well.
I’m not saying all of these things happened solely because of the book, but the book has been instrumental in enabling them.
If you write the right kind of book, which you will if you get Vicky’s help, then you’ll discover all these doors you currently can’t see in your business. And you’ll enjoy opening them and having a peek inside and seeing which ones you want to go through.
I definitely noticed a difference in my confidence levels when I wrote my book—and I’ve noticed the same thing with my clients who are writing their books, even when they’re just starting the process. I notice a big shift in my clients’ mentality when they work on their books. That confidence is infectious, isn’t it? And it’s attractive to people who might want to work with you.
When your course came along, I was humming and hawing about it. I was wondering whether to sign up for this thing or not. Would it be worth it? I needn’t have worried because it was more than worth it and it’s paid for itself many, many times over.
I felt like I knew you, which I didn’t, back then. And I knew people who knew you, so that was reassuring for me. I didn’t feel like I was going to get diddled or anything.
Your book course is probably one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my business.
Dom Hodgson is a prolific author with four published books to his name and a fifth on the way—including the Amazon bestselling How To Be Your Dog’s Superhero.
In 2011, Dom revolutionised the pet service industry with his first business: Pack Leader Dog Adventures, the UK’s first, award-winning "dog adventure" company.
Now a respected dog trainer, author, speaker, and mentor to pet business owners, Dom’s calling is to help dog walkers, trainers and groomers to excel with their marketing, so they can help change the lives of more dog owners with their amazing skills.
You can get a copy of Dom's books from Amazon or grab a signed copy from his website. (If you're a dog owner or a pet business owner, hop on over there!)
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© Vicky Fraser 2019